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Chris Hadfield retiring from Canadian Space Agency
Posted: June 10, 2013

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Chris Hadfield, the first Canadian commander of the International Space Station and a viral Internet sensation for his music video shot aboard the complex, announced his retirement Monday just a month after returning to Earth.

In the waning days of the Expedition 35 mission, a stirring version of David Bowie's Space Oddity was released on YouTube with Hadfield performing the song aboard the station. It has received 15.8 million views.

He lived and worked on the orbiting complex for 144 days, launching atop a Russian Soyuz rocket on Dec. 19 and docking two days later. Along with crewmates Roman Romanenko and Tom Marshburn, he landed May 13 after circling the Earth 2,336 times and traveling 61 million miles.

It was the pinacle of Hadfield's spaceflight career that began with his selection by the Canadian Space Agency in 1992 as one of four new Canadian astronauts from a field of 5,330 applicants.

His first trek into orbit came in November 1995 aboard the space shuttle Atlantis on a mission that delivered a new docking module to the Russian space station Mir. He became the first Canadian to operate the shuttle's Canadian-made robotic arm in orbit and the only person from his country to visit Mir.

He became the first Canadian to walk in space during his second shuttle mission aboard Endeavour in April 2001 that delivered and assembled the Canadian-made robotic arm for the International Space Station. In total, Hadfield spent 14 hours, 54 minutes on two EVAs, travelling 10 times around the world.

After retiring from the Canadian Air Force in 2003 at the rank of colonel, he served in various roles awaiting one more flight. That finally came as the flight engineer of Expedition 34 and commander of Expedition 35 during the five-month mission.

"I am extremely proud to have shared my experience," Hadfield said Monday. "I will continue to reinforce the importance of space exploration through public speaking and will continue to visit Canadian schools through the CSA."

Hadfield's resignation is effective as of July 3 "to pursue new professional challenges."

His Twitter feed now has surpassed the 1-million mark in followers.